So long as Andy Dalton sits atop the depth chart as QB1, he’ll get ample camera time behind the mic. With that being said, I’m curious to see how he handles what’s thrown at him. Not only is Dalton set to battle to retain the starting gig throughout the summer and into the regular season, he is doing so from a place where he is learning new teammates and a new offense. All the while, taking rookie Justin Fields under his wing.
Dalton discussed that and more when meeting with the media on Wednesday.
Embracing the Mentorship Role
One of the most important lessons learned in 2017 was that, as important as it is to have a place-holder while grooming a young quarterback, it matters who serves as that player. Mike Glennon simply wasn’t cut out for it. Not only was he trying to make his own case for being a starter, he was doing so while trying to showcase why he should’ve been starting previously. I’ll admit to there being some hindsight here, but it’s an important lesson to have learned from 2017. And that’s where Dalton’s embracing of a mentorship role is important.
Dalton said he is “absolutely” willing to play the mentor role for Fields. What that entails includes advice on how he views certain plays, how he uses his eyes to manipulate things, and other aspects he can pass along due to his extensive time under center over the years. Perhaps, more importantly, Dalton seems to be taking it in stride by saying (bold emphasis mine): “It’s just the position I’m in. Everybody should enjoy it. All our experiences in our lives are for us and other people. You’re just trying to pass that along.”
Wise words from a sage quarterback with 10 years of experience under his belt. Dalton’s discussion about being a mentor reminds me of something Grandmaster Yoda said in The Last Jedi: “Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. The greatest teacher, failure is. We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”
Dalton Wasn’t Blindsided by the Bears Drafting Fields
There will come a point when we should have an extended conversation about the Bears’ tactics leading up to their drafting of quarterbacks. Because we have a bit of a track record in which a player seemingly promised a starting gig gets the chair pulled from underneath them sooner or later. The Glennon-Trubisky thing is top of mind, but the Trubisky-Foles experience comes to mind, too. Maybe everyone in Halas Hall is cool with it, but it’s fair to wonder how others outside the building perceive things to be.
Maybe that’s why Head Coach Matt Nagy was certain to reach out to Dalton on draft night with multiple conversations before the Fields pick. In the end, it sounds like Dalton knew what he was signing up for back in March.
⇒ “I knew the situation I was going into, regardless of if they drafted somebody or they didn’t.”
⇒ “I’ve had a lot of different conversations with everybody here. I knew there was a possibility of it. And so, when it happened, it is what it is.”
⇒ “I was on a one-year deal, and I was going to be the starter. So my mindset didn’t have to change. I already knew that I’m going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games. That’s been my goal from the very beginning. And so whatever happens after this year happens. But my mindset didn’t change just because they drafted Justin.
Remember, It’s His First Camp, Too
Let’s not lose sight that this is also Dalton’s first camp with the Bears. Meaning that it’s his first time with this group. These are his first reps in this offense. So keep that in mind when trying to handicap this quarterback race. Veteran grit and know-how is valuable. But Fields and Dalton are on more even footing than you might otherwise think when generally discussing the veteran-rookie dynamic.
“Right now, it’s just building chemistry with our guys. First time being around everybody. For them, hearing my cadence, making sure we’re communicating well, and just kind of getting a feel for how our skill position players are running routes and everything.”
It’s the little things, man…
For Dalton’s entire press conference, check out the video below: